"The driving force behind the San Francisco cable car system came from a man who witnessed a horrible accident on a typically damp summer day in 1869. Andrew Smith Hallidie saw the toll slippery grades could extract when a horse- drawn streetcar slid backwards under its heavy load. The steep slope with wet cobblestones and a heavily weighted vehicle combined to drag five horses to their deaths. Although such a sight would stun anyone, Hallidie and his partners had the know-how to do something about the problem.
Hallidie had been born in England and moved to the U.S. in 1852. His father filed the first patent in Great Britain for the manufacture of wire- rope..." - CLICK to read this article about the history of San Francisco's cable cars.
I've seen many cities built above the sea. As different as Marseilles, Algiers, Lisbon, and Naples are, they all have a common feature: their hills are used as architectural elements. The streets marry their curves; they climb in spirals so artfully that the sea can be glimpsed from almost anyplace. What looks so complicated on a map seems simple and natural in reality. But it's quite the opposite here: San Francisco is a shockingly stubborn abstraction, a geometric delirium. The plan was traced on paper without the architect even glancing at the site. It's a checkerboard pattern of straight lines and right angles, just as in New York or Buffalo. The hills, those very material obstructions, are simply denied; the streets scale up them and hurry down without deviating from their rigid design. As a result, you hardly ever see the ocean. Enclosed between successive barriers that cut off the horizon, the streets have a provincial calm they are paved with red bricks that evoke the fresh tiling of Dutch kitchens and are lined with white houses three or four stories high. San Francisco does not have the warm, cosmopolitan colors of Barcelona or Marseilles. The memory of the gold miners, their camps, and their brawls seems far away. You can walk a long time in its peaceful, bourgeois neighborhoods without suspecting that you're in the heart of a city of eight hundred thousand inhabitants.
-excerpt from America Day by Day by Simone de Beauvoir
(From the book Foreword by Douglas Brinkley, 1996):
Beauvoir journeyed to America in January 1947, armed with an effusive letter of introduction from her soul mate Jean-Paul Sartre and ecstatic about experiencing four whirlwind months. Although she did not intend to write a book, she kept a detailed diary of her observations, which was published in France in 1948 as L'Amerique au jour le jour. At the time of her trip, two years before the publication of The Second Sex, Beauvoir was considered more of a cafe' society curiosity than a feminist trailblazer. Even in 1952, when the book was translated and published in England as America Day by Day, it generated few sales and little notice. But with the passage of time, America Day by Day emerges as a supremely erudite American road book...
...For women, and men, who want to experience vicariously Jack Kerouac's open road with less macho romanticism and more existential savvy, America Day by Day, hidden from us for nearly fifty years, comes to the reader like a dusty bottle of vintage French cognac, asking only to be uncorked.
Beautiful San Francisco skyline clipart by ABKL Designs